Rodez, Midi-Pyrenees: tourism & sightseeing

Photo of Rodez in Aveyron

Visit Rodez (Midi-Pyrenees, France)

MAP & PLACES TO VISIT

The quiet medieval city of Rodez, the capital of the Aveyron department, has more for tourists to see and do than you might expect at first glance.

Explore Rodez

It is the historic centre round the cathedral that is of interest to visitors. To appreciate the architecture at its best you can’t go far wrong if you pick up a map from Rodez Tourist Office with a walking tour which will lead you around the historical centre where key places to see are conveniently marked with numbered plaques.

Rodez cathedral facade

First on the list of places to see is the gothic style Cathedral of Notre Dame, built from the 13th to 16th century. Built in red sandstone it towers over the surrounding city but also forms part of the fortifications for Rodez: this explains why the lower western parts are more like a fortress but the upper parts and the belltower are much more ornately decorated. Inside the cathedral you can see a series of contemporary stained glass windows.

Behind the Cathedral the old medieval streets sprawl through little alleyways and pedestrianized shopping lanes where town houses from medieval times to the 18th century can be seen and several including impressive architectural features such as renaissance windows.

You will find an excellent range of boutiques and chain stores here, but be warned, you will need your cheque book to go on a good spending spree! If markets are more your thing then there are open air markets in Rodez three days a week throughout the year.

If shopping is not really for you then two great cultural visits are on offer: the Beaux-Arts Museum which exhibits the works of local sculptor Denys Puech, and the Fenaille Museum of History and Archeology which houses amongst other artefacts, a unique collection of Menhir stone statues and has a Renaissance Mansion incorporated in its centre.

Because Rodez is a departmental capital it is possible to find events all year around with theatre and music concerts held on a regular basis. Annual events which are well worth attending if you visit at the right time are held in the public gardens below the cathedral, the most notable being the firework display for Bastille Day (July 14th), the Music Festival called ‘Estivada’ (mid July) and not to be missed, ‘the Pétagne championships' (held late July early August).

Rodez is also a great place to visit to eat out. There is a huge choice of restaurants, and generally the quality is good. There are many cheap and cheerful ‘Menu du Jour’ restaurants around the Cathedral, but you can also find fine dining.

Rodez cathedral stained glass windows

Arriving in Rodez

If you are arriving by car then I suggest you head in for the town centre towards the imposing cathedral of Notre Dame, take a right hand turn in front of the cathedral and head for the Foch underground car park. Parking charges are reasonable and when you emerge from underground you will find yourself in an open square, next to the excellent Rodez Tourist Office where you can pick up lots of handy leaflets for visits and events both in the city itself and the surrounding area.

Scenery and countryside around Rodez

Belcastel

Villages to visit in the region include Entraygues (follow the signs for the campervan parking for a nice picnic spot), Espalion and Belcastel - and many others you will come across as you travel around.

As you heard north from Rodez you will see signs for the 'Trou de Bozouls'. A curious village well worth the detour for a quick look, Bozouls is set on either side of a rocky canyon, with the houses built along the edges. Hard to imagine who thought it was a good idea to build a village where the two parts are separated by a large precipice but impressive all the same.

Apart from the many beautiful villages, it is the countryside of the region around Rodez that is the big attraction.

Conques

If you follow the Lot Valley from Grand-Vabre (just north of Conques) towards Entraygues it is very attractive, and the last few kilometres especially so. Likewise if you head west from Grand Vabre.

The valley of the Viaur River to the south of Sauveterre-de-Rouergue is also very attractive. Wherever you go you won't find it hard to find beautiful scenery in the region.

While you are driving around Rodez area you will come across Peyrusse le Roc to the west of the region. The 'modern' Peyrusse le Roc is a normal small village, but below the village and set into the cliffs is another, much older, village. Since its 'discovery' in the 1970's volunteers have enthusiastically cleared paths and removed debris to the abandoned village, and you can now descend by path passed various rediscovered buildings - including a synagogue and a belfry. Very interesting.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Aveyron guide and the Midi-Pyrenees guide.

See also:

Map of Rodez and places to visit

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Address: Rodez, Aveyron, Midi-Pyrenees, 12000, France || GPS: latitude 44.3506, longitude 2.575

Plan your visit to Rodez, Midi-Pyrenees

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

Market days in Rodez, France

Regular market(s) are held in Rodez each Wednesday & Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Rodez (Francais)